Inner development courses for civil servants

The move is part of the organization’s efforts to further motivate civil servants and is based on the GNH survey findings  

GNH: The Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) besides planning to introduce policies catered to women, such as extended maternal leave, is also attempting to get its public workers to reflect and introspect on their motivation to serve the country.

This was pointed out by the RCSC Chairman, Karma Tshiteem, in a session on reforms being pursued to improve the working conditions for civil servants, during the recent international conference on Gross National Happiness in Paro.

While there was criticism that policy makers were conspicuously absent during the GNH conference, the session revealed how an organization in Bhutan is attempting to align with GNH values.

“Civil servants are clearly in quite a good position of society,” Karma Tshiteem said. “It’s a much sought after occupation,” he added.

In the GNH survey 2010, civil servants were found to be the happiest occupational group and in the recent findings, they were still ranked high, coming in just after local government officials.

Karma Tshiteem said that it was a challenge to determine how to further motivate them. However, two shortcomings were found,

In two of the nine domains, psychological wellbeing and community vitality, gaps existed, Karma Tshiteem pointed out.

“When we first joined work just out of college, we joined the Royal Government, full of fire,” he said. “We didn’t ask about our pay and perks, we just wanted to do things,” he added. “We wanted to give back to our parents, our society, to our King and country, but 10-15 years down the road, we lose that fire,” he added.

Karma Tshiteem said there is a need to rekindle that fire and realize the source of motivation through introspection and reflection.

While still in early stages, inner development training opportunities meant to build this ability to master oneself have been introduced. Currently, limited only to those in leadership positions, the training course is attempting to get people to have a strong moral compass.

He said that this would lead to participants having a strong sense of self or leadership of the self.

Karma Tshiteem added that the skeptical have questioned if the course is attempting to get individuals enlightened in the Buddhist sense. He said that in a way it is, as it is an attempt to get participants to realize that the best way to serve one’s own interests is by first securing the future of the country.

The chairman also pointed out that there are new challenges for civil servants such as the environment they operate in. “We’ve elected political masters,” he said. “Civil servants are having some difficulty calibrating their existence with this new entity that comes as lords to master over them,” he added. As a result, a system is being put in place for civil servants to access when they face problems.

A welfare system is also to be introduced.

Both extrinsic and intrinsic forms of motivation are being pursued. On the extrinsic side, the RCSC is trying to increase salaries despite limited budgets, he said, however also pointing out that a GNH society cannot be achieved solely through monetary motivation.

As a result, non-monetary motivation like recognition from His Majesty The King has been introduced.

Shortcomings on a second GNH domain, community vitality, particularly on families, was also found.

Karma Tshiteem said that civil service conditions reflect a time when it was male dominated.

“There should not be this artificial choice between family and career,” he said. “That would not be desirable for the GNH outcomes we want for Bhutan.” He pointed out that the institution of family has become a casualty of modernization. He said that he was surprised at how families are not the object of policies, despite being aware that family and friends are necessary for life to be meaningful.

Karma Tshiteem said it is important to reduce the need to choose, especially for the female workforce. “For Bhutan to flourish, we must tap the potential of all our population,” he said. “So maternity leave, from three months paid maternity leave, we’re going to extend it to six months,” he added. “In addition, until a child turns one either parent can take half pay and spend full time with their children.”

Karma Tshiteem said that parents are today turning to the education system not only to teach them, but also to parent their children. He said that parents impart values to their children through actions and that required time. “And if you create a lifestyle where you don’t have time to do this, then I fear for what sort of future we’ll have,” he said. Therefore, to change this, Karma Tshiteem said, the work place has to be made conducive for children to get the attention they need.

Flexi time for civil servants will also be introduced.

There are currently 26,500 civil servants in Bhutan.

Gyalsten K Dorji

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